MANILA, Philippines — The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines became the latest target of fake news after a false report that it denounces the killing of the leaders of the Islamic State-linked Maute group went viral on social media.
“Once more, CBCP is the hapless victim of fake news. Going viral on social media is a ‘report’ that CBCP regrets the killing of Messrs. [Isnilon] Hapilon and [Omar] Maute,” CBCP President Socrates Villegas said in a statement.
Facebook pages such as Rodrigo Duterte Supporters and Charotism, among others circulated that Villegas condemns the death of Hapilon and Maute who were killed in action on Monday.
According to the false report, Villegas said that the brutal killing of the two leaders is “a solid evidence that EJK is alive in the country” and the photos of them lifeless—especially that of Omar—should have not been shown to the public.
It also included a fake quote from Villegas that read: “Sana man lang binigyan nila ng konting respeto yong bangkay ng tao. Binaril e sa ulo pa, pwede namang sa katawan para ma-minimize ang damage (We should’ve at least given his cadaver a little respect. He (Omar) was shot in the head. They could’ve shot him in the body to minimize damage).”
The Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop said CBCP never made such statement.
“On the contrary we laud the gallantry of our soldiers and their heroic efforts to free Marawi. We will gladly join government in rebuilding the city in the measure we are able,” Villegas said.
He added: “We pray for all the dead and for lasting peace in Mindanao.”
— CBCPNews (@cbcpnews) October 17, 2017
Last June, the CBCP released a pastoral exhortation against fake news where Villegas asked the faithful to help stop its spread, especially on social media.
According to the letter, fake news does not only offend the orientation of human intellect to the truth but it is also a sin against charity.
“Alternative facts and fake news engender faulty decisions many times with disastrous long-term consequences to persons and to communities,” Villegas said.
Before issuing the pastoral letter against fake new, CBCP published its Pastoral Guidelines on the Use of Social Media with an appendix on websites “carrying fake or unverified contents.”
Some of the bishops themselves have been victimized by fake news and offensive memes in social networking sites especially during the time President Rodrigo Duterte was slamming the Church for its stance against killings in his drug war.